Hawke’s Bay-based Federated Farmers Senior Policy Advisor Rhea Dasent has written this open letter to her local MP:
Dear Anna Lorck, MP for Tukituki.
I am writing to implore you to vote for an amendment to the Water Services Bill to exempt small water suppliers like my father from an unnecessary and unfair regulatory burden.
A regulatory regime that holds people like my father, who supplies three households, to the same level of compliance as a municipal water supplier, is a solution looking for a problem.
My father is the current owner of our intergenerational family farm. We have a groundwater bore that supplies my parent’s home, the cottage I live in with my husband and two young children, and the cottage his oldest brother lives in with his family. This same water supply also provides the animal drinking water to all the troughs on our 190ha beef cattle farm. It is completely untreated and consists only of fresh and pure H2O from an underground aquifer.
Our water is pumped up the 15m deep bore shaft by pipes and then into an enclosed concrete reservoir, where it is piped down to our homes and out to the animals. There is no opportunity for it to be contaminated by bird nor beast as it is always in pipes or enclosed tanks. In our 100+ years we’ve been on this farm, and in the 20 years we have used this particular bore, we have never had any illness from bacterial contamination. You will have many similar rural water suppliers in your Tukituki constituency.
I agree the Water Services Bill is needed to ensure better potable water and accountability by large and municipal water supplies, especially after the 2016 Havelock North water contamination event. Large suppliers have multiple workers managing the water, doing shifts, with different roles, creating a chain of responsibility with many links. I can see the need for such suppliers to have a concise plan and monitoring procedure so all the people involved know what is happening.
However, classifying people like my father as a water supplier, and holding this single person to the same level of compliance as the Hastings District Council, is neither fair nor needed. The chain of responsibility for our water consists of one person, who is always available on-site and never has to read the notes left by the previous shift or report to a manager.
Under the Bill, my father would have to:
- register as a water supplier;
- develop a water safety plan;
- set up a consumer complaints scheme;
- test the water quality frequently, which he does not have the expertise to do, nor is it necessary because we have never been ill;
- potentially have to dose our water with chemicals like chlorine or fluoride, which we do not want for ourselves, nor want our animals to drink;
None of these are needed nor wanted by us.
You must vote for an amendment to the Water Services Bill to separate small water suppliers like my father (say, water suppliers that provide less than 50 households) from large water suppliers, and release them from this excessive regulatory burden.